Going in “Muslim garb” for Halloween

By Shahed Amanullah I have been scaring people with Muslim garb all my life, and I can remember the first … Continued

By Shahed Amanullah

I have been scaring people with Muslim garb all my life, and I can remember the first time I did so. It was when I was 4 years old and my mom dressed my twin brother and I up in ethnic Indian clothing for a local Halloween party. She clearly didn’t intend for me to look scary, but the way she dressed me nearly 40 years ago was an eerie precursor for the reality of today, when people like former NPR analyst and current Fox contributor Juan Williams express their fear of people wearing “Muslim garb” on planes.

That was another time, in the days before Muslims were a visible “other” in American society. We were unthreatening enough that we could wear the clothing of our native or ancestral backgrounds and be thought of as quaint or ethnically cute. I got away with it for a while, even dressing up with little fanfare in Arab clothing I had purchased while on the hajj as a teenager.

Today is a different story, of course. I understand why people like Mr. Williams find themselves terrified when they see folks in “Muslim garb” (whatever that is, but that’s another story). We’ve all been conditioned to associate terrorism with “Muslim garb” through decades of images of angry protesting Muslims superimposed with the aftermath of terror attacks. It has come to the point where many of my Muslim friends have decided to forego any sort of ethnic dress when out in public, especially when at the airport. And that’s a sad thing.

It’s sad not because normal people are denied the pleasure of wearing clothes that they feel expresses their identity, but because as a society we have allowed irrational fear to control our actions. And to act on the fear of Muslim clothing in an airport is clearly irrational. At no time since (and including) 9/11 have people in “Muslim garb” ever endangered an airplane. The terrorists who have done so all had one thing in common – they studiously avoided “Muslim garb” so as to go as unnoticed as possible.

We live in an age where Americans are under threat of terrorism, and all of us – Muslims especially – should be aware of dangers in our midst and act accordingly to ensure our collective safety. But acting on irrational fears directly undermines our vigilance and as a consequence makes us less safe.

I point out the irrationality of Mr. Williams fear not because I care about my right to wear “Muslim garb” unmolested (personally, I have only worn such clothing at Muslim weddings, an unlikely target). I do so because he and others like him are Pied Pipers leading all of us down a road of false security which ultimately leaves us vulnerable.

And though I can’t help but make light of the situation by suggesting that DC-area Muslims go trick-or-treating at Juan Williams’ house wearing “Muslim garb” in order to scare him, in the end it isn’t really a laughing matter.

Shahed Amanullah is the founder of the online newsmagazine altmuslim.com.

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  • pamschuh9

    Burquas are particularly scary because they could conceal a 20 year old male jihadi with a suicide/homocide belt. No face to see no empathy towards other humans, only fabric and explosion and killing the infidel. Scary indeed!

  • MissButterfly

    You use the word “irrational” repeatedly in describing those of us who react negatively to Islam – a person would have to be in a coma not to see that nearly every terrorist these days is a Muslim, committing his atrocities in the name of Allah.

  • gjtitus

    What is really “scary” is what Muslims have been doing for the last 1400 years. Now that we have 1400 years of documented activities coming from Islam I think we are justified in our concerns.The best way to judge any religion is to examine the worthiness of the founder. Mohammed picked up the sword and killed those who opposed him, and that is a fact. Jesus Christ did not pick up the sword and laid down his life for his enemies, and that is also a fact. Then He raised Himself from the dead. Now choose whom you will serve.Follow a dead savior, and you’ll end up just like him.

  • MamaMudiwa

    The ignorance on here is laughable. People are talking about 1000+ years of violence from Muslims, while completely ignoring the violent history of Christian Europe and it’s sequel in America. Slavery, colonialism, forced conversions, lynchings, jewish holocaust, h-bombing in Japan, etc. were all the brainchildren of good Christians doing their deeds in the name of God.I wonder if Juan Williams fears a KKK hood more than “Muslim garb”.

  • zainab_khan

    we muslims, at least those of us living in the safe environs of the west, should start something along the lines of the reformation, a “reformation lite” if you will.we need to change how the quran tells us to view the “unbeliever” aka kafir [the word kafir should go the way of the n word]; how islam advocates the treatment of women [second class and worse]; islam’s stance on gay rights is abominable [the ugly truth is that we are worse than the evangelicals ]; on relations with the state [particularly non-islamic governments]; on apostasy [i grew up an agnostic in pakistan, and the first time i was able to declare my lack of belief openly without fearing for my life was when i moved to new york]; and last but not the least, we need to conduct an honest appraisal prophet muhammad’s life, who, in my opinion, did not lead a life worthy of emulation, to say the least.

  • Steve-Gregg

    I can’t help but notice that every Muslim reaction to the low regard with which they are held due to the terror propagated by their religious brethren is to pass the blame to the targets of their religion, to chide them for overreacting, to encourage them to acquiesce to Muslim attacks as the new normal. I don’t see any Muslim taking responsibility for the violent excesses of Islam nor making an attempt to reform his or her religion to eliminate its belligerence. A good first step for Muslims that would improve their reputation is to disavow all the violent doctrines in their Koran that demand they kill non-Muslims. My advice to all those Muslims demanding respect: earn it.

  • AKafir

    Mamamudiwa writes: “People are talking about 1000+ years of violence from Muslims, while completely ignoring the violent history of Christian Europe and it’s sequel in America. Slavery, colonialism, forced conversions, lynchings, jewish holocaust, h-bombing in Japan, etc. were all the brainchildren of good Christians doing their deeds in the name of God.”Take it for granted that everything you say is true. How does that for a second change the problems with Islam and how it treats the non-muslims? How does that for a second change that it was a follower of Muhammad who are sending us bombs by mail, and who are yelling Allah hu Akbar and killing people now? Do you know of any viable Christian, KKK, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Bahai, Zorastrian, Pagan, threat in the present? Focus. I know you can do that.

  • Secular

    The ignorance on here is laughable. People are talking about 1000+ years of violence from Muslims, while completely ignoring the violent history of Christian Europe and it’s sequel in America. Slavery, colonialism, forced conversions, lynchings, jewish holocaust, h-bombing in Japan, etc. were all the brainchildren of good Christians doing their deeds in the name of God.All the accusations you make of west are true. But can you point to any western country which still have their laws discriminating against non-christians? The fact that you are living comfortable in the west is the answer to that question. How is it that every one of the 57 OICs have absolutely discriminatory laws against non-muslims? BTW the last country to abolish Slavery is you know, right that Islamic Paradise, you know you go for your annual pilgrimage, the one and only Saudi Arabia. One last thing don’t justify Islamic Vileness by saying the same is true of other religions too.

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